On economic reforms

1998-06-23 - Boris Yeltsin


Dear members of the government and parliament. The joint meeting is caused by extraordinary circumstances. In many countries the world financial crisis has led to a serious reconsideration of the role and place of the state in the modern-day economy.

It is also acute for Russia, which is carrying out a most difficult transfer to a regulated market. Despite urgent government measures the situation in the financial sphere is alarming.

Radical measures, measures adequate to the seriousness of the situation, are required to bring back order to the economy.

The economic crisis has become so acute that there are social and political dangers. Those who care for Russia -- not in words but in deeds -- have to understand this.

The price of delays, fussing and fighting is too high today. (Prime Minister) Sergei Vladilenovich Kiriyenko will present to you a programme of economic and financial stabilisation.

It has two aims: First of all to quell turmoil on financial markets, and second, in a longer run, to create a strong economy protected from similar situations in the future.

The measures written in the programme are not revolutionary. We have been talking about their necessity for years. Actually they appeared in every presidential address to the parliament.

But there is no actual change that the society would be able to feel.

Naturally, Russia has been seriously hit by the fever on world markets, by the financial crisis in southeast Asia and, of course, by a collapse of world oil prices. As a result the budget lost tens of billions of roubles.

But a great deal of the fault lies with us. We have lost momentum in reforming the economy. The situation with payments of wages, pensions and welfare has deteriorated again.

Not only the public sector workers are suffering, not only those working in the defence industry. Those who are not paid from the budget are suffering as well.

You know, I am not prone to over-dramatise the situation but acute tensions in the Russian society are all too clear.

Our economic policy requires serious corrections. The proposed programme is not just designed to introduce elementary financial order but also to change the economic situation in Russia radically.

Enough of living beyond one's means, when one-third of budget revenues are dumped to cover domestic and foreign debts. Enough of babbling about the need to revitalise domestic industry.

Yes, Russian goods must become the masters on the Russian market. But in fact the support of domestic producers is often substituted by lobbying of ineffective production.

Enough of being proud of pseudo economic independence of the regions. We are all in one boat, but some are really rowing while the others simply sit there doing nothing. They borrow a lot only to make the federal centre deal with their debts later.

We cannot tolerate more indecisiveness and sluggishness in carrying out decisions.

The programme of the government must become a programme of action, it must give answers to vitally important questions. It must revitalise Russia's industry and support the producers, create a tax system comprehensible to all, when fairly paying taxes will be profitable.

In this way the government plans to help the poorest segments of the population.

It will be difficult to fulfil this programme, but we have no alternative.

Many participants of the meeting had little time to study the whole package of documents, many received it only this morning.

But it comprises practically all the business-like proposals that parliamentarians had come up with during their meetings with the head of the government. Significant additions that will sound today must also find a reflection in the programme.

Dear members of the government and parliament, all these laws have to be approved before the start of the summer break. This is the deadline, there is no other.

I understand your attitudes, but I want to say again that we have no other way and if the package of laws written in the programme is not approved, other measures will be taken.

But I still count on your constructive approach. As before, I put my stakes on a dialogue. There is no time for settlement of differences.

All those who really care for the country's fate have to leave aside their private interests or addictions to political parties, regional elite, trade unions or business interests. Everybody needs unity when we are talking national interests. And this moment of our history requires this unity.